Welcome to my latest Circle update 

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Greetings! I want to start by thanking you again for your support and hoping that 2022 has started well for you.

Certainly, the recent period of very Spring like sunny weather, combined with the reduction in Covid restrictions, have really contributed to a renewed sense of optimism and recovery here at Circle. This positivity has been increased by the return of our in person groupwork services, with children and parents, that have really excited our various offices. We know that both the families we support, and our own staff, have really struggled with the seemingly never-ending period of online meetings.

This sense of optimism is tempered by a very real awareness of the challenges facing families both in recovering from the pandemic and coping with the cost-of-living crisis, which is disproportionately affecting the most challenged and financially excluded families. This next year could be even more difficult for the families we support than the two years of Covid we are all recovering from. The negative impact on families finances could reduce both their physical and mental health and lead to relationship problems, isolation and crisis. We are already planning for our projects to face even more demand for our support this year.

In our quarterly newsletter you will find articles about some of the work taking place in our various projects, including; a SHANARRI Safari adventure leading to some of the young people we work with making a professionally assisted video; a move of office for our West Lothian team; arts and crafts inspired fathers work and a respite break for one of our families. All projects updates are here. There are also various interesting insights into the lives and experiences of Circle families, staff and board members, including a unique, and first ever, contribution from our Full Circle Parents Group with a money saving recipe for batch-cooked Bolognese. We are working hard to ensure that our families contribute more to our communications and are given the opportunity to have their voice heard in everything we do and this is an exciting start! All of Circle’s latest news and updates can be found here.

We are delighted to launch Circle’s DARED Challenge for the fifth year. The virtual challenge involves Doing A Run Every Day in June to support Circle’s work. Over the last four years over 500 of our supporters have taken part, including me and several other Circle staff & board members, raising over £70,000 for our vital work with families across central Scotland. We ask all supporters of our work to either sign up or encourage their friends and wider networks to enter. More information can be found in the event information pack here.

Further exciting news comes in the form of a collaboration with partners East Lothian and Edinburgh to develop two brand new services. In East Lothian we will be working with Cyrenians to deliver the ‘Asked to Leave’ service supporting families affected by, or at risk of, homelessness. And in Northwest Edinburgh we are working with a range of partners in the Bwell Together Partnership to improve the mental health and resilience of children, young people, and families. These projects demonstrate Circles strategic commitment to working in partnership with other organisations to share knowledge and expertise for the benefit of children and families. Watch this space for more news when the projects are up and running, as well as a further encouraging announcement, which is pending approval, on a further expansion of our services.

Our recruitment page is going to be busy over the next few months, so please share opportunities as they arise. Recruitment is difficult across the sector and we rely on our supporters to help us where they can. We currently have two opportunities for you to join the Circle team:

We are looking for a Development Manager to lead on our commitment to keep The Promise and include the voice of families in everything we do, for example the SHANARRI Safari work and the Bolognese story both highlighted above.

And we are also searching for a Practice & Learning Development Manager who will be responsible for providing leadership for practice learning across the organisation delivering and co-ordinating practice teaching, and act as a resource to staff.

Details on both roles, and future opportunities, can be found here.

Spring is also the time of year when we start to plan Easter and Summer outdoor activities and trips with children and families. Taking in these activities is hugely beneficial for children and families providing time to relax together and create lasting memories. We would like to thank Radio Forth Cash for Kids for their continued support for these activities. Read more about their support here.

Finally, as well as working with families affected by poverty and structural inequality, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to use our voice to campaign on their behalf. To this end Circle have become a member of The Poverty Alliance, which campaigns for financial inclusion and an end to poverty. We have been actively involved in the Scrap the Cap campaign, which calls for an end to the cap on benefits which disproportionately disadvantages families with children. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect families we will continue to highlight the plight of the most financially excluded families.

If you would like to discuss anything raised here or any aspect of Circle’s work, please feel free to contact me directly.

Mark Kennedy